God’s Guidance

By |2020-12-03T08:06:05-05:00December 9th, 2020|

When their bank accidentally deposited $120,000 into their account, a couple went on a shopping spree. They purchased an SUV, camper, and two four-wheelers in addition to paying off bills. Discovering the deposit error, the bank told the couple to return the money. Unfortunately, the husband and wife had already spent it. They were then charged with felony theft. When the couple arrived at the local court, the husband said to a reporter, “We took some bad legal advice.” The two learned that following bad advice (and spending what wasn’t theirs) could lead to making a mess of their lives.

In contrast, the psalmist shared wise advice that can help us avoid messing up in life. He wrote that those who find genuine fulfillment—who are “blessed”—refuse to be influenced by the advice of those who don’t serve God (Psalm 1:1). They know that unwise, ungodly counsel can lead to unseen dangers and costly consequences. Also, they’re motivated by (find “delight” in) and preoccupied with (“meditate on”) the timeless and unshakeable truths of Scripture (v. 2). They’ve found that submitting to God’s guidance leads to stability and fruitfulness (v. 3).  

When we’re making decisions, big or small, about our careers, money, relationships, and more, may we seek God’s wisdom found in the Bible, godly counsel, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. His guidance is essential and trustworthy for living a fulfilling life and not creating messes.  

Spiritual Driving

By |2020-08-26T09:05:02-04:00August 26th, 2020|

I don’t remember many specifics about my driver’s education class. But for some reason, an acronym we learned, S-I-P-D-E, remains firmly lodged in my memory.

The letters stood for Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, and Execute, a process we were taught to practice continually. We were to scan the road, identify hazards, predict what the hazards might do, decide how we’d respond, and then, if necessary, execute that plan. It was a strategy for being intentional to avoid accidents.  

I wonder how that idea might translate to our spiritual lives. In Ephesians 5, Paul told Ephesian believers, “Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise, but as wise” (v. 15). Paul knew certain hazards could derail the Ephesians—old ways of living at odds with their new life in Christ (vv. 8,10–11). So he instructed the growing church to pay attention.

The words translated “be very careful, then, how you live” literally mean “see how you walk.” In other words, look around. Notice hazards, and avoid personal pitfalls like drunkenness and wild living (v. 18). Instead, the apostle said, we can seek to learn God’s will for our lives (v. 17), while, with fellow believers, we sing to and give Him thanks (vv. 19–20).

No matter what hazards we face—and even when we stumble—we can experience our new life in Christ as we grow in dependence on His boundless power and grace.

Useful Temptation

By |2020-06-01T15:58:40-04:00June 5th, 2020|

Fifteenth-century monk Thomas à Kempis, in the beloved classic The Imitation of Christ, offers a perspective on temptation that might be a bit surprising. Instead of focusing on the pain and difficulties temptation can lead to, he writes, “[temptations] are useful because they can make us humble, they can cleanse us, and they can teach us.” Kempis explains, “The key to victory is true humility and patience; in them we overcome the enemy...”

The Mouse That Roared

By |2020-02-12T12:21:29-05:00February 15th, 2020|

Several years ago my sons and I spent a few days camping in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in Northern Idaho. It’s grizzly bear habitat, but we carried bear spray, kept our campsites clean, and anticipated no major grizzly encounters. One evening, in the middle of the night, I heard Randy scramble around trying to get out of his sleeping bag...

Turn and Run

By |2019-09-13T12:25:32-04:00September 18th, 2019|

Ali was a beautiful, smart, and talented teenager with loving parents. But after high school something prompted her to try heroin. Her parents noticed changes in her and sent her to a rehabilitation facility after Ali eventually admitted the impact it was having on her. After treatment, they asked what she would tell her friends about trying drugs. Her advice: “Just turn and run.” She urged that “just saying no” wasn’t enough...

All for Nothing

By |2019-07-25T13:38:02-04:00July 29th, 2019|

Heroin addiction is poignantly tragic. Users build tolerance, so larger hits are required for the same high. Soon the dosage they seek is more than enough to kill them. When addicts hear someone has died from an exceptionally strong batch, their first thought may not be fear but “Where can I get that..?”

Divine Escape

By |2019-05-15T11:38:45-04:00May 20th, 2019|

Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot mystery The Clocks features antagonists who commit a series of murders. Although their initial plot targeted a single victim, they began taking more lives in order to cover up the original crime. When confronted by Poirot, a conspirator confessed, “It was only supposed to be the one murder.” Like the schemers in the story, the religious authorities formed a conspiracy of their own.

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